Another Day, Another Blog

April 27, 2007

Cowboy Blues (Or, Yet Another Ficlet Fragment)

Filed under: ficlet, western — iamza @ 7:00 am

   The Immortal slid down from his iron horse, his heavy boots sending up a cloud of reddish dust as he landed, knees bent and feet apart. He straightened slowly, teeth clamped tightly around the base of his cigar, and looked about him.

   The town seemed deserted: blinds drawn, shutters fastened, doors locked. Like folks had closed up shop before an approaching storm, and never returned. The Immortal stood for a moment, considering his options. A chance encounter with a passing ancestor may have sent him this way, but the Immortal was under no obligation to stick around to investigate.

   A ball of tumbleweed caught his eye as it rolled into the dirt road and stuttered to a halt in front of the saloon. The Immortal grinned. This was surely a sign that he should quench his thirst before making any decisions about whether or not to solve the mystery of the missing townsfolk.

   The doors to the saloon were made of solid oak. It took three good kicks before the Immortal was able to push his way past the splinters, and into the shadowy room beyond. Inside, dust motes drifted lazily on the few weak sunbeams that managed to limp through the broken doorway. The gloomy light was just bright enough that he could see the chairs in the saloon had been stacked neatly on top of the scattered card tables, and that the bar, which looked like it was made of the same solid oak as the front doors, had recently been wiped clean.

   He held still for a moment, closed his eyes and tilted his head slightly, listening for any sounds of life. But he heard only the sound of the wind as it plucked sadly at the freshly shattered door to the saloon, and the occasional snort and clank of his iron horse outside.

   The Immortal opened his eyes, and moved so that he stood behind the bar. Frowned as he reached up for a bottle of whiskey and a glass, and mechanically poured himself a double shot. The bottle thudded dully against the wooden bar as he set it down, and picked up the glass. 

   Strange. Whatever had happened here had happened quickly, but not without warning. The townspeople had not had time to send notice of their departure to Twin Rivers, though that town was only two days by horse. But they had had enough time to set things in order before they left. That they’d cleaned up, locked their doors, and closed the shutters suggested the townsfolk had had every intention of returning…so what had happened to alter their plans?

   The Immortal lifted the glass to his lips, and tipped his head back as he drained the amber liquid therein with one gulp. The alcohol left in its wake a welcome trail of heat as it went down, and he quickly reached to pour himself another.

   What exactly was it the ancestor had said?

AUTHORIAL INTRUSION: Oh, I don’t know? How about, “Don’t drink and detect.” Or possibly, “Now, son, don’t stay in that there town past sunset, because that’s when the zombie townsfolk return. And they sure ain’t gonna be happy when they see what a mess you’ve made of their nice clean saloon!” (Insert loud THUD as author’s head impacts against the desk)

   “Who said that!?”


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